Oct. 21st, 2003

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For anyone who is interested in Christopher Hitchens' bright line on politics and religion (which with religion at 1 and practical politics at 5 he places at something like 8 in his ongoing crusade against the decaying remains of Mother Teresa, although he also blames her for being political) it might be worth your while to search out his August 2003 ball of confusion in Vanity Fair, God and Man in the White House, with which for some inexplicable reason he has not managed to paper the net as ubiquitously as, well, everything else cross-grained he's ever written).

Relevant points: Ashcroft is a hypocritical fanatic who wants to destroy the separation of church and state.
That has nothing to do with Bush.

Bush claims that Jesus makes his decisions for him.
He doesn't say it out loud.

He uses targeted phrases to make it clear to the christian right that he's working for them.
The rest of us don't understand them, so it's not so bad.

He pores over the bible constantly.
At least he read something.

His policies are bad for children and other living things.
Since he pretends that his politics are not based on his religion, that's not hypocritical.

He said that the war between the "Christian" US and the muslim world is a crusade.
This is, I swear to you, not a paraphrase: He "only said it twice."

He's the most prominent conservative Republican in America and he thinks government should be faith-based.
I'm not making this up either, sadly: Most conservatives follow Ayn Rand and Leo Strauss, so there's no danger that this will get out of hand.

The only thing I'm actually going to type in here, because the poor sodden bastard clearly has been stripped of every lingering trace of the ability to recognize irony he's ever had, assuming he ever did had:
Descending from the grand to the miniscule, the president has also told us on more than one occasion that he personally has been aided by a higher authority, and that he needed the help as much as he once needed a drink. The old choice -- "It's me or Jack Daniel's [sic], you asshole" -- has been brusquely offered to many a gross Texan husband by many a pissed-off Texan wife, and there's no good reason to doubt that this story is just another version of the old, old one. Except that in Bush's case it worked. He really did choose Jesus over the amber nectar. (Forcing myself to reflect on this choice has taken me into an area of etherial responsibility well above my pay grade at the magazine.)

huh huh. Hey Butthead, he said ether.

Hitchens on the less ambiguous subject of, er, Sid Blumenthal, in his Atlantic piece, Thinking Like an Apparatchik (they do like to call people Stalinists, the Hitchens boys):
The privatized and privateering class of spin doctors, advisers, consultants, fundraisers, and reputation mongers displays a weird combination of cynicism and naiveté. It knows better than anyone else what the candidates and parties are really like. But it is compelled, when disgust or alarm reaches a certain pitch, to act as if only a member of the "other" faction could stoop so low. This falsity and cheapness has now reached a point where, palpable as it is even to half indifferent readers and viewers, it may have become invisible to the participants themselves.
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IT'S NOT AS THOUGH Osama bin Laden gave a Jihad Award to Ariel Sharon, or Donald Rumsfeld gave his Good Pal Award to Condoleezza Rice. It's not even as though Dick Cheney gave his Favorite Foreigners Citation to the French.

But the news from College Station, Texas, this week -- that the First Father, former President George H.W. Bush, has given his own most treasured award to Senator Edward Kennedy -- is nearly as astonishing.

When it was announced (with amazingly little fanfare) that the pugnaciously anti-Iraq war Democrat Kennedy had been awarded the 2003 George Bush Award for Excellence in Public Service, so many jaws dropped all over Washington that usually voluble politicians were only heard swallowing their real thoughts.

Since the current President Bush veered away from the real war against terrorism in Afghanistan and went a'venturing in Iraq, much to his father's dismay, just about everybody close to Washington politics has known of the policy schism between father and son.

It was politically and philosophically obvious. But people around Father Bush, a coterie of traditional internationalist conservatives who protect him like a wolf mother does her cubs, would heatedly deny any family rift -- and nobody spoke publicly about it.

Now it's all out. Father Bush has done it in his own preferred nuanced way -- the way Establishment gentlemen operate -- but he has revealed the depth of his disagreement with his impetuously uninformed son.
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With the strongest union backing and deepest roots in the politically important industrial Midwest, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.) is emerging as the Democratic presidential candidate many prominent Republicans fear the most in the 2004 elections.

In interviews with nearly two dozen Republican strategists, lawmakers and state chairmen across the country, including several close to the White House, Gephardt was portrayed by a majority as the Democratic candidate best prepared and positioned to defeat President Bush in a head-to-head matchup next year. The reasons, they said: Gephardt consistently supported the Iraq war, enjoys unrivaled support among union leaders and hails from the Midwest, where many Republicans believe the presidential election will be decided. They also cited his health care plan, experience and discipline as key factors.

"When [we] look at the whole picture and who can get [Democrats] there . . . people are saying Gephardt is the biggest threat," said Rep. Mike Rogers (Mich.), finance chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Got that?

The GOP is terrified that Democrats will choose a candidate who will concentrate on the essential low-electoral-vote states of the midwest while leaving Bush to fight an uphill battle in the south, the mid-Atlantic states and the rust belt.

Democrats take note.
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Since the end of the Vietnam War, presidents have worried that their military actions would lose support once the public glimpsed the remains of U.S. soldiers arriving at air bases in flag-draped caskets.

To this problem, the Bush administration has found a simple solution: It has ended the public dissemination of such images by banning news coverage and photography of dead soldiers' homecomings on all military bases.

In March, on the eve of the Iraq war, a directive arrived from the Pentagon at U.S. military bases. "There will be no arrival ceremonies for, or media coverage of, deceased military personnel returning to or departing from Ramstein [Germany] airbase or Dover [Del.] base, to include interim stops," the Defense Department said, referring to the major ports for the returning remains.

A Pentagon spokeswoman said the military-wide policy actually dates from about November 2000 -- the last days of the Clinton administration -- but it apparently went unheeded and unenforced, as images of caskets returning from the Afghanistan war appeared on television broadcasts and in newspapers until early this year. Though Dover Air Force Base, which has the military's largest mortuary, has had restrictions for 12 years, others "may not have been familiar with the policy," the spokeswoman said. This year, "we've really tried to enforce it."

President Bush's opponents say he is trying to keep the spotlight off the fatalities in Iraq. "This administration manipulates information and takes great care to manage events, and sometimes that goes too far," said Joe Lockhart, who as White House press secretary joined President Bill Clinton at several ceremonies for returning remains. "For them to sit there and make a political decision because this hurts them politically -- I'm outraged."

Pentagon officials deny that. Speaking on condition of anonymity, they said the policy covering the entire military followed a victory over a civil liberties court challenge to the restrictions at Dover and relieves all bases of the difficult logistics of assembling family members and deciding which troops should get which types of ceremonies.

One official said only individual graveside services, open to cameras at the discretion of relatives, give "the full context" of a soldier's sacrifice. "To do it at several stops along the way doesn't tell the full story and isn't representative," the official said.

YOU young friskies who today
Jump and fight in Father’s hay
With bows and arrows and wooden spears,
Playing at Royal Welch Fusiliers,
Happy though these hours you spend,
Have they warned you how games end?

Blow out, you bugles, over the rich Dead!
There's none of these so lonely and poor of old,
But, dying, has made us rarer gifts than gold.
These laid the world away; poured out the red
Sweet wine of youth; gave up the years to be
Of work and joy, and that unhoped serene,
That men call age; and those who would have been,
Their sons, they gave, their immortality.

Here dead we lie
Because we did not choose
To live and shame the land
From which we sprung.

Life, to be sure,
Is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is,
And we were young.

So when I’m killed, don’t mourn for me,
Shot, poor lad, so bold and young,
Killed and gone -- don’t mourn for me.
On your lips my life is hung:
O friends and lovers, you can save
Your playfellow from the grave.

No pictures, please.
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via Long Story, Short Pier: The Eater of Meaning.

via The Eater of Meaning, predigested formats of my humble blog: Rockwell Lockstep/Artistic Trapping and Sistine Shrubbery/Sister Shrewdest (motto: "Lasts uchi specials and putters youthfully feedings up," which you don't dast argue with but are welcome to explain to me).

Note to tnh: there is a disemvowelment setting.
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A college student who told authorities he planted box cutters on airliners to test security was charged with taking weapons onto an airplane yesterday amid questions about why authorities failed to act on an e-mail he sent to them detailing his activities five weeks ago.

Nathaniel Heatwole, 20, allegedly slipped bags containing the box cutters and other banned items through airport security and hid them on Southwest Airlines planes on Sept. 12 and Sept. 14, and then sent an e-mail describing what he had done on Sept. 15 to the federal Transportation Security Administration, according to an affidavit accompanying a criminal charge.

But it wasn't until after about a month later, when airline workers conducting routine maintenance on Thursday stumbled onto the plastic bags containing the blades, bleach, clay shaped like an explosive and matches, that TSA tracked down the e-mail and turned it over to the FBI, officials said.

"This is a bad experience," said Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, who oversees TSA. He said officials had decided Heatwole's e-mail "wasn't an imminent threat," but they now will "look at our protocol" for handling such e-mails.

Aspiring terrorists, take note.

ya know

Oct. 21st, 2003 05:17 am
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I think we should all go drop a twenty in Jim's brandy snifter, because dammit, dutch uncle of the left-blogosphere is a hard job, and he's been doing it very nicely for quite a while.

Go go go.

I'll wait for you to get back.
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If Arnold Schwarzenegger can be elected governor of California, can comedian Dennis Miller unseat Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer?

Some Republicans in the Golden State think so, and quietly hope they can persuade the sharp political wit -- and registered Santa Barbara Republican Ñ to take on the liberal senator. Variety magazine reported this week that Mr. Miller has contacted California Republican consultants to feel out a campaign.

One California Republican political consultant called a Miller candidacy "sort of a cool idea," and a state party spokesman said Mr. Miller's recent exposure as a Republican is "a plus."


David Horowitz, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture in Los Angeles, said Mr. Miller would be an interesting candidate, but wonders why he would give up the good life of show business for politics.

"It'd be a great loss to comedy," Mr. Horowitz said. "I like Dennis Miller. I think he is very appealing, I just don't know why he would want to do it."
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I find this somewhat confusing.
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so I'm reading supergee's list of quotes from yesterday to my small family, who I am attempting to jolly out of their scheduled morning squawking, and my intellectually questing husband is insisting on attribution for each one, and then came to

I love to go down to the schoolyard and watch all the little children jump up and down and run around yelling and screaming...They don't know I'm only using blanks

and the kid pipes up: That's mom. Definitely mom.

For the record, Emo Phillips.
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from Gregg Easterbrook's impassioned defense of firing people who say things you don't like from the Wall Street Journal:
When talk show host Bill Maher says the September terrorists were brave and American pilots are cowardly, his comments fully merit First Amendment protection.

and so they would, you jingo asshole, were it not that Bill Maher never said any such thing.

What he said was that while the hijackers were evil, it takes more personal courage to fly a plane into a building than to shoot missiles from a distance.

Agree or disagree, that's what he said.

How did Gregg Easterbrook get to the level of success he (formerly?) enjoyed? He's hella sloppy.

via atrios
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...and everytime a Republican gets elected, God puts a baby bunny in a blender and hits frappe.

and you know what happens to God's blender then? It doesn't emit black smoke and die.

This proves that God loves fresh basil more than He/She/They/It love[s] baby bunnies.
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Tess of the D'Urbervilles, to the tune of George of the Jungle

...When she gets in a scrape
She makes her escape
With the help of her "coz"
Who likes to rape


Then with a knife
She took his life
In hopes of remaining
Angel's wife! She's . . .

Tess, Tess, Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Tears are of no use
(Tarzan yell)
Watch out for that noose!
Watch out for that--
(trapdoor opens, sound of falling, thud)


Oct. 21st, 2003 08:21 pm
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from the site that brought you Eating My Flesh Away With My Own Evil Barbie

It's George W. Bush, exploring the dualities of being a jowly Alan Ladd while suffering from a toothache in the dark.

So they don't have any artists either?

I thought they were just depressed about the bad actors and songwriters.


Oct. 21st, 2003 08:30 pm
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The webmaster at Awful Plastic Surgery dot com has asked me not to "hot link" to pictures from her site.

If you've bookmarked those links, please don't click on them.


Oct. 21st, 2003 10:04 pm
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So I'm reading about Wil Wheaton and his gig on the BBC and someone in comments links a where are they now page and one of the former child stars is Lisa Whelchel, the vanity case from Facts of Life.

A few years ago, she had a book out called Creative Corrections, which is apparently popular with religious home-schoolers.

Here are some of her thoughts on spanking:

Whether spanking works or is the best approach depends not only on the child and the circumstances, but also on his or her age. When my kids were little, for example, I sometimes felt it was more effective to administer a spanking than to try to reason with them. I can remember giving four-year-old Tucker an impassioned and encouraging talk on the need for self-control. It was designed to bring about a great change of heart in my son and had been a deep and meaningful conversation...or so I thought.

The moment I finished talking, my son piped up. "Mom," Tucker began, "only one word makes sense out of everything you just said."

"Oh, which one was that?" I asked, curious.

He furrowed his brow. "I forgot."

A spanking might have been kinder than my long-winded lecture, and definitely more memorable!

Thankfully, as my kids have matured, my "talks" and other modes of correction have had some impact. But in their early years, discipline was certainly a challenge. For example, when my children were toddlers and constantly getting into things, it seemed my only alternatives for discipline--other than spanking--were distracting or confining them. And I didn't like either of those choices. Diverting their attention from something off-limits was a superficial cure. It only postponed the need to teach them that we can't always have everything we want. Besides, it kept me hopping! Yet the other alternative--keeping them confined to their playpen for half the day--seemed even more cruel than a slap on the back of their hands.

although more loving than touching them up with a hot iron.

edit: I've just noticed that during their productive conversation, which was supposed to touch on the child's issues with impulse control and offer solutions, he wasn't allowed to speak until she was done with an extended lecture. In my less Christian (I gather) home, the kid is allowed to tell me what she thinks before I tell her what's wrong with what she thinks. Whatever.

(FWIW, my persistent thought about spanking is that it's the last refuge of the incompetent, but mileage varies on that one. At the very least, a parent who can't think of a compelling reason to restrict their communication with someone a fifth their size with imperfect impulse control to the non-violent might want to consider carefully their decision to homeschool that child in light of the questionable nature of their own impulse control.)

AAR, Lisa and God have worked out a number of strategies for training her children, of which these are some.

Unfortunately, the "put a drop of tabasco on their little tongues to teach them to watch their mouths" technique is missing from this precis.

It's pretty much what it sounds like.

I have no reason to believe that Andrea Yates was exposed to this book in any way shape or manner.

I bet her husband would nod a lot if he read it.
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...The Governor of California was removed from office based on finance troubles. And yet George W Bush has lied to us, failed to keep our own borders secure, entered a war under false pretense, endangered lives, and created financial chaos. How is it that he hasn’t been recalled? Perhaps this time we could even have a real election . . . but that wouldn’t fit the Bush administration’s “take what you want and fire people later” policy. Take an election; take an oil field; take advantage of your own people -- a game of political Three-Card Monte...
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